The Diary: Art deco building still standing thanks to Sheffielders

Surriya Falconer
Surriya Falconer
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Sheffielders left officials in no doubt of their views when two years ago plans were put forward to demolish Hambleton House, in Exchange Place.

The iconic six-storey building would have been knocked down in January 2012 if South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority Properties Ltd had got its way.

But after a storm of protest council officials stepped in to ensure the building was preserved.

Quite right too, heritage experts have since said.

The art deco building was opened in 1927 as a wholesale branch of WH Smith.

“It is one of the finest branches in the provinces,” noted The Story of WH Smith & Son in 1932. “The news serving counter, as you enter, provides a fine example of quick service for customers. To the left of this department is a book salon. From it an electric lift will take you to any department.”

Its top-floor cafe became a must-go place for those wanting relaxed drinks and great views.

In 1966 it was bought by the council and became transport offices.

It remained as such until 2009 when it was left empty.

“It’s great to be able to help preserve this piece of Sheffield history,” says Surriya Falconer, chairwoman of the board of Yorkshire Art Space which has now taken the building on.